To further my earlier post about YO!, I think it's necessary to break down a few instances of my the program was so important to that era. I think YO! had the same problem as Headbangers Ball ran into, which was MTV controlled what was played and the selections were, mostly, never left for the host to decide. Between Ed Lover in the first hour, and Fab Five Freddy running the second, I hold MTV in question as to why they didn't think these guys knew what they were doing. I mean, I get it....the network needs to make money. Therefor, they're going to run videos where the label invests a lot of money into the channel.
Luckily, that age was almost void of untalented MC's, so even the MTV selections were quality. I could have done without seeing shit like Positive K, Triple X Posse and K7. On the other end, the surge in popularity of hip-hop, and specifically NYC affiliated artists, made every week a must watch. The weekly countdown was actually something that I'd considered my personal lottery, hoping to have another chance at watching such gems as DAS-EFX's "They Want EFX", or EPMD's "Headbanger" remix video.
These were played on the regular. What was always the most important part of each hour was whatever premieres of new videos were aired. More times than not, it was your one chance to see that video before it fell into oblivion forever. Luckily, as DVDs started to raise in popularity, a lot of these forgotten pieces of hip-hop history have been unearthed, cleaned up, and put on compilations of some sort. Some artists have bootlegged all of their videos that were both aired and unaired. For those of us that loved a song that we thought should have had a video, it turns out there was one and it just never saw the light of day.
This post will mainly cover a selected few videos, both popular and not, that I remember vividly watching. Some ended up being huge, propelling the artist into platinum status. Some suffered crib death and the artist had to settle with wood in the hood. Either way, this was when hip-hop videos were videos and not episodes of Cribs, or a five minute journey into self obsession and arrogance.
In no order whatsoever, here's a bunch of awesomeness:
Pharcyde "Otha Fish"
First off, how perfect is the "Passin' Me By" video. Fuck! Fatlip hanging upside down, the entire video filmed gritty and dark. It was the epitome of what that song needed visually. I loved this group. It seemed like it was that song and then, poof!.....nothing else.
I remember being tired as all hell, fighting to stay awake through both hours. I dozed off about 45 minutes into the first hour, dead to the world. As my sleeping pattern has been for as long as I can recall, I groggily wake up off and on, half coherent.
My ears heard it first, without my eyes being open, that chorus, "There's otha fish in the sea, that is....There's otha fish in the sea...". My eyes popped open, blurry as all hell, and there was this psychedelic freakout blaring from the TV. My sight focused in and out over the next few minutes, knowing I HAD to see the whole video. I just remember it being totally bizarre, which was typical of The Pharcyde's personae back then.
I woke up the next day and cursed myself out, knowing I missed my chance to witness it in full. Sure enough, by the following week, it was gone. Never to be seen again.
Miraculously, about nine years ago, I found a Pharcyde VHS bootleg, that contained a ton of their videos from over the years and some pseudo-documentary tour and studio footage.
A lot of people turned their backs on these guys once Labcabincalifornia came out, not liking the r&b influence that found it's way into most of the songs, but I think the album is pretty damn good. It's no Bizarre Ride..., but it'd be pretty hard to repeat that one.
Fatlip, man.....where the hell are you?
Kurious "Walk Like a Duck"
This dude should have blown the fuck up. Seriously. A Constipated Monkey is a bonafide classic, in my opinion. The Beatnuts produced a lot of this record, if remember correctly. I thought Jorge's voice was badass from the moment I heard him on the Prime Minister Pete record. Dude was great.
The record itself had a good handful of songs that could have been video-worthy singles. "I'm Kurious"....which actually did have a video:
Also "Nicole".....something about that song, man. It was perfect. Just a hysterical tale of a dude being scorned. The best part was as the music trailed out, one of Jorge's friends shots something along the lines of "Ayo, Jorge, man, don't worry about it. Skins come a dime a dozen, man....let's go grab some chicken wings."
I laughed my ass off.
But, unquestionably, "Walk Like a Duck" was the jam. One of the beats beats to ever come out of NYC.....thundering, crisp snare, horns.....all the essentials.
This video was my favorite type.....the crew video. A bunch of dudes hanging out on a basketball court while Kurious busts a rhyme, walking back and forth giving props to everyone, including cameos of a ton of top MC's in the 1992 era. This shit is just awesome.
Notice the fashion accessories? This was an era that I can identify with.....slightly over sized hoodies of pro sports teams. Backwards fitted caps, leather jackets, sprouting, non-ironic 'fros.
.....and almost no vision whatsoever of shiny diamond watches.....actually, nothing shines at all in the video. It's grit, it's uplifting, and it's pure hip-hop. Bless the early 90's.
Gang Starr "Mass Appeal"
Just because you're an amazing and trailblazing duo armed with, arguably, the best DJ of all time and an MC with one of the most recognizable voices ever, that doesn't mean you'll get a shit ton of airplay. I heard this single first, bought the 12", and then waited for the chance to buy the album. I bought it when I was a sophomore(?) in high school. A friend and I went down to visit someone we knew in DC. The first day I was there, I made her drive me to a record store. I found "Hard to Earn" immediately and bought it with Milk's "Never Dated" LP (c'mon...."Get Off My Log" was the shit!).
We got back in the car and I begged her to let me hear it. Now, you have to understand....I knew I was white, but I wasn't white bread. The moment the intro into "ALONGWAYTOGO" came on, you would have thought someone let off a stink bomb in that packed car. It lasted for three songs before I was cut off. The tape was ejected and I was stuck listening to shit 80's pop.
Didn't matter. I had a walkman.
So, when I finally saw the video, I flipped out. It was great to have a visual to the audio. Simple video.....Guru walking and driving around with Primo. It was very.....Gang Starr. It was so laid back, but you know so much went into it, much like every song this group put out. I saw it once on MTV and once on BET.
Funkdoobiest "Bow Wow Wow"
Son Doobie. This fuckin' guy. I was hooked on this group the moment I saw this video. I was on summer vacation and was at a friend's house for the night. After a day of playing pick up and an evening of watching the Red Sox and the NBA Draft, we got our fortress of snacks and soda ready and planted our asses in front of his TV. YO! came on and "Bow Wow Wow" proceeded to steal the show. I kept thinking, "Man...it's like a bizarre version of Cypress Hill...". Then I found out that Muggs produced most of the "Which Doobie U B?" LP and that they were part of the Soul Assassins. My ears were good.
The debut LP was great....even the songs Ralph M was allowed to hold the mic on. But, their second LP, "Brothas Doobie"? Unfuckwithable classic. I know it wasn't as popular as their first, but this record is golden. I bought the first single, "Dedicated" on a cassette single at Strawberries.
If, for some chance, you never gave them a shot, do yourself a favor and buy the first two records and go watch a ton of videos up on youtube. Specifically, "Rock On".
Tha Alkaholiks "Daaam"
Such a good song. Such a criminally underrated record. "21 & Over" was a good debut.....not a great one, but it was pretty solid. If you ask a lot of hip-hop enthusiasts, it was their best. I, shockingly, disagree and think "Coast II Coast" blew it away. This video pretty much sums up the overall feel of the record...much darker than the party album they stormed out of the gates with. It was matured, the production was insane, and every MC was given enough time on the record.
The video had minor success on YO!. I saw it a few times, shoved into the last fifteen minutes. This wasn't where i remember it from, though. I used to subscribe to "Rap Video Monthly", a VHS 'zine that would send you a new tape once every two or three months. There would always be like 7 videos of the worst hip-hop artists to ever exist, and then 4 or 5 videos that were awesome, the kind you never got the chance to see on TV. This was one of them. I didn't even know the record had come out when this little 4 minute bastard showed up in the mail. I fast forwarded right to it.
I think that's all for now. If I dive into every video I remember seeing, this post would take until 2012 to put up.
Much more sooner or later.